Remodels and Traditions: Creating Some of My Most Treasured Moments In Life

By Tracy Renee Lee

May 26, 2022

Is remodeling a home ever fun for anyone? My husband and I have built (from the ground up) our funeral home and apartment and fully remodeled two additional homes. We are currently remodeling our third home and I can assure you, we are not having any fun whatsoever.

One might ask, why, if we already know that we do not enjoy construction, would we undertake a fourth home? If you are my age, the answer is perfectly reasonable and simple; grandchildren!

Our grandchildren want to come stay the summer with us and we live in a micro mini apartment within our funeral home. Not only that, but currently, we have our grandchildren’s very large and extremely active puppy staying with us. There is not even room within our apartment for an extra pair of socks, let alone two very active young children. We have tackled this mountainous task because we are short on space and need adequate room for our grandchildren’s visits.

Actually, we purchased this home quite some time ago, even before the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in 2020. Our daughter and her family were stationed in Hawaii when the Pandemic was announced. With the emergent threat of disease, we had her and the children return to the mainland. We all stayed in the house next door, hunkered down for safety, before we had time to update it. I believe its last updates were in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. Whichever it was, updating was certainly overdue.

We have struggled, as many have, trying to find someone even moderately qualified, willing to do the remodel. I can’t fathom it. People not wanting to work when there is work to be done; it’s unbelievable. I love working and would never give it up unless forced to due to incapacitation. Working is part of who I am. If I’m not working, there is something dreadfully wrong. My children wouldn’t know what to do if their mother wasn’t working. I have always been self-employed and that means I have always worked, even when I had small children trailing behind me. If there are things I would never give up, they would be my family, my faith and my work, in that order. Those are my three passions in life. Without them, life would be meaningless to me.

As amazing as this may sound, my husband and I finally found someone willing to work. Well, we thought we had. Demolition began and we were on our way to a complete remodel. Unfortunately, the first forecasted date of completion came and went, then the second followed suit. After noticing that not much was going on at our little house, we contacted our remodeler (again) to see what was up. He said he might come back over in a few weeks, delaying construction yet again. Our completion date is now over two months past due and we are only in the demolition phase. Our home is in worse condition than it was when the remodel began. At least then it had two working bathrooms and a functioning kitchen. Currently, we can’t even claim running water. Our outdated home in which we resided during the COVID-19 Pandemic, is now completely uninhabitable.

Our grandchildren call us daily wanting an update and all we can tell them is that we are trying to find someone willing to work. My heart is broken. Time is slipping away. Soon school will reconvene and our opportunity to enjoy our grandchildren this summer will slip beyond our grasp.

During COVID-19, my grandchildren and I began painting rocks together. Before we built our funeral home, my husband and I were artists. Since we were forbidden to exit our property during the health scare, we bought and installed playground equipment, plenty of toys and art supplies for at home activities. My grandchildren enjoyed their COVID-19 year confined in an outdated home, playing and painting with their grandparents. I must admit, COVID-19 was a fun year for me too. Thankfully, none of us became ill and we were with each other 24 hours a day. That was heaven on earth. The final half of 2020 was spent helping my daughter and her husband transfer their lives from Hawaii to Washington DC. Washington DC is still a very long way from East Texas, but it is much more accessible than Hawaii.

Now, my husband and I find ourselves in a terrible dilemma. We have anxious grandchildren waiting on our home next door that is completely uninhabitable and sadly, we cannot find anyone willing to show up to work and repair the demolition that has been havocked within its walls. Additionally, we have suffered multiple deaths within our family and we are trying to settle the tasks that accompany such experiences.

As people of our generation do, we continue to move forward. We search for someone to help us through our situation, someone who wants to earn their living, retain their dignity and provide for their family, rather than sit at home doing nothing. Additionally, each morning, I speak with my grandchildren and we make our plans for activities once they eventually get here.

Our grandson wants to go fishing with his PaPa. His first fishing experience was in the height of COVID-19 and he loved it. This year, our granddaughter wants to join them. I think this will become a yearly tradition for them. My grandson asks to set up rules, as he calls them, each day during our conversations. One of his rules is that we paint a rock together each morning and that we find a magical spot to place it for other children to find. On the underside of our rocks, we inscribe an uplifting quote. We call our rocks “COVID Rocks Motivation” and we place them around playgrounds, libraries, fishing ponds, school yards and other places where children will most likely visit.

For us, the grandparents, completing the remodel of our small home next door is paramount. Our traditions, developed during the COVID-19 Crisis, are wonderful because they have welded the generations of our family together. That weld will strengthen over time, even after we are gone. We want to keep those traditions alive by repeating them yearly.

Our grandchildren will always remember my husband and I, their time with us during the COVID-19 Crisis, the fun and conversations we shared and the love that runs deep within our souls for each other. COVID-19 Prison wasn’t all bad. Our activities together, now traditions will forever inspire love and lead my grandchildren to improve themselves and the world around them.

Traditions

Traditions are a wonderful tool for grief recovery. Observing traditions that were once enjoyed with the deceased helps us accept that they are gone from us physically, yet with us still through the activities and love we shared together.

Such activities, now traditions, will aid your family by anchoring them securely to their heritage. Observing traditions stabilizes a family through loss, expansion and changing environments.

Traditions with my grandparents are some of my most treasured moments in life. They comfort me when I need comforting and they bolster my strength when I suffer weakness and fear. I love my grandparents, I appreciate the time they invested in me, the lessons they taught me, the importance of self-reliance they instilled in me and I treasure the unconditional gifts of love with which they showered me.

I visited my grandmother’s grave last week; the week of Mother’s Day. As I stood at the foot of her grave, I played my harp and sang her a song. I will never forget her stories of hardship during the Great Depression, her recovery from poverty, her absolute refusal to be a victim and her triumphs through faith. I hope my grandchildren will have these same tools, passed along from their grandparents to them during a time of incredible growth and hardship, companioned with unconditional love, sacrifice and solidified through traditions.

The only things standing in the way of having my grandchildren here are a few demolished bathrooms and a gutted kitchen. I guess I better start developing construction skills; otherwise, it is going to be a summer of camping and although I loathe camping, I love and cherish my grandchildren and my time with them. They’ll be here with me soon because I will be next door with a hammer, a roll of duct tape and a tube of super glue starting tonight! Armed with my tools of choice, that house is going to get finished one way or another!

My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), Published Author, Syndicated Columnist, Podcaster and Founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, Podcasts and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.

For additional encouragement, please visit my podcast “Deadline” at: https://open.spotify.com/show/... or at https://anchor.fm/tracy874 and follow me on Instagram at: "Deadline_TracyLee."